You may not realize it since the material is heavy, and sits still, but the production of concrete accounts for ~3x the amount of carbon emissions as aviation.
That figure is especially concerning with the world’s building stock on track to double by 2060.
Fortunately, in a climate tech first, companies say they’ve not only removed CO2 from the atmosphere, but trapped it in concrete, and used that concrete to construct new things.
As part of a small-scale demonstration, Heirloom — a startup claiming to run America’s only operational Direct Air Capture facility — began the process by capturing CO2 at their headquarters in Brisbane, California.
- The company, which has raised $54.3m, is backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and counts Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify as customers.
Next, CarbonCure Technologies, which has produced CO2-captured concrete for Amazon’s second headquarters in Virginia, injected the captured CO2 into wastewater. CarbonCure has raised $12.4m and is also backed by Gates.
Finally, Central Concrete Supply Co. used the processed wastewater to make new concrete, which was used for various construction projects around the Bay Area.
What happens now?
Scaling up is key. The experiment used just ~38 kilograms of captured CO2. According to the EPA’s calculator, that’s what a gas-powered car emits every ~94 miles.
It’ll also be important for these companies to analyze whether other parts of the process have a negative impact on its benefits.
In the meantime, momentum across climate policies, tax credits, and federal funding — including $3.5B toward carbon removal — is moving the space forward.
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